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Hundreds of school staff rapid test for COVID-19 in Fargo and West Fargo

Published: Nov. 24, 2020 at 9:47 PM CST
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FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) - Thanks to a partnership between the State’s Department of Health and the National Guard, staff at Fargo and West Fargo Public Schools can now receive a free rapid test with COVID-19 results in just 15 minutes.

“The intent behind the testing being able to catch any asymptomatic carriers in our staff if we have any,” Fargo Superintendent Rupak Gandhi said. “Then to quickly isolate those individuals before there is any rate of spread, so I think it provides another mitigation strategy for the school district to utilize.”

Two days in, Fargo tested a total of 312 staff members. Nine came back positive. (Monday: 181 tested, four positive. Tuesday: 131 tested, 5 positive.)

West Fargo tested 400 school staff. Ten were positive. (Monday: 256 tested, nine positive. Tuesday: 144 tested, 1 positive.)

That’s just the start. Staff will have the opportunity to be tested each week through the end of the year.

“The ability that we recognized someone that we wouldn’t have known and were able to isolate or quarantine them before they could spread that to someone else,” Dr. Gandhi said.

A good thing overall. However, West Fargo Superintendent Beth Slette expressed concern over staffing, saying testing at such high rates, it’s likely to get worse before getting better.

“We may find out that the more we know, the more we may not have staff to staff our classrooms,” Slette said. “We may have to have that conversation about at what point do you go toward distance learning.”

As testing of school personnel is just getting started, there are a lot of unanswered questions, but school leaders say any step toward slowing the spread of COVID within schools and our community is a step forward.

We asked both Fargo and West Fargo leaders about the prospect of rapid testing students.

West Fargo’s superintendent said Monday it’s on their radar, but does not know if and when it would happen.

For more information about COVID-19 rates in Fargo Public Schools, click here.

For more information about COVID-19 rates in West Fargo Public Schools, click here.

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